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Am J Bot. 2008 Mar;95(3):368-80. doi: 10.3732/ajb.95.3.368.

An AFLP marker approach to lower-level systematics in Eucalyptus (Myrtaceae).

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School of Plant Science.


Genus Eucalyptus, with over 700 species, presents a number of systematic difficulties including taxa that hybridize or intergrade across environmental gradients. To date, no DNA marker has been found capable of resolving phylogeny below the sectional level in the major subgenera. Molecular markers are needed to support taxonomic revision, assess the extent of genetic divergence at lower taxonomic levels, and inform conservation efforts. We examined the utility of 930 amplified fragment length polymorphisms (AFLPs) for analyzing relationships among Tasmanian taxa of subgenus Symphyomyrtus section Maidenaria. Phenetic and cladistic analyses resolved species into clusters demonstrating significant genetic partitioning, largely concordant with series defined in the most recent taxonomic revision of Eucalyptus. Some departures from current taxonomy were noted, indicating possible cases of morphological convergence and character reversion. Although the resolution obtained using AFLP was greatly superior to that of single sequence markers, the data demonstrated high homoplasy and incomplete resolution of closely related species. The results of this study and others are consistent with recent speciation and reticulate evolution in Maidenaria. We conclude that a combination of phylogenetic and population genetic approaches using multiple molecular markers offers the best prospects for understanding taxonomic relationships below the sectional level in Eucalyptus.

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